After five years of wanting, I played my first D&D game today. Upon creating my character—Pimbleton the Great and Powerful and Mighty and Strong, a three-foot-tall gnome who rode into the world on a lightning bolt thrown by Zeus and spent twenty years enslaved by a cereal company who forced him to be their mascot before rising to monarch of a race of undersea people—I was asked what his “alignment” is. This refers to a 3×3 grid, with axes of “Lawful vs Chaotic?” and “Good vs Evil?”
- Is he lawful-good, like Superman?
- Chaotic-good, like Robin Hood?
- Lawful-evil, like Senator Joseph McCarthy?
- Chaotic-evil, like The Joker?
I disliked this question. It feels wrong-directional. We can describe an action as one of these, but they don’t describe the whole person.
- What about a lawful-good character whose father was killed by an orc and therefore has developed deep-seated racism against them? If she’s lawful-good in every other instance, must she also be lawful-good toward orcs?
- Or a chaotic-evil character with a soft spot for small, furry animals? Must he suffocate every bunny he meets, simply because he beheads every human in his way?
Actions should come from who someone is, not the easiest way to classify them. There’s no such thing as acting “out of alignment.” There’s only acting in character or not.